Saturday, January 26, 2008

Niagara Falls

The Niagara Falls

Niagara FallsThe American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls.

A very ‘urban’ fall

There are water falls with grater heights and there are falls which discharge greater quantity of water, but there is no fall as beautiful, popular, visitor friendly as Niagara. It also has the credit of being located closest to the mega cities like New York and Ontario making it very urban compared to Iguazu Falls or Victoria Falls. Niagara also remains as the most commercially utilized falls in the world. The facilities offered to the tourists make this site a heaven of pleasure seekers.

When people of US and Canada think of a vacation and visiting some wonderful natural spot; the first name that comes to their mind is either Niagara or The Grand Canyon. Tourists from far away places; when they pay a visit to the US first prefer to visit Niagara above all other exotic locations of this country. It is no wonder that this water fall remains as one of the best money spinners to the tourism departments of both states.

Niagara River

Niagara is a 56 km long river that carries the water of Lake Erie to Lake Ontario that is located in a much lower altitude. This river also forms as a boundary between Ontario of Canada and the State of New York. Niagara also has the credit of being one of the few rivers that flow northward in this continent.

This river water has in its course licked away a lot of sand and soft rock from its banks thus creating a not so small gorge on both of its sides, at one point it bifurcates and reunite giving birth to a large river island known as the Grand Island. This island is 33.3 sq km in area and has a population around 20,000 people.

A cluster of falls

Niagara Falls The Horseshoe from Helicopter

The Niagara Falls on the River Niagara is actually a cluster of three falls coming between two nations, Canada and The US. It is just 17 miles south east from Buffalo New York and 75 miles from Toronto Canada. The falls in the Canadian portion –known as the Horse- Shoe Falls; is the largest of the three. The US side has two falls The American Fall and the Bridal Weil Fall.

Horse-shoe Fall- the largest among the three; has a height of 173 feet and discharges nine times the water than that of the American fall. One river island known as the Goat Island located between the two on the upper floor of the river separates these two falls.

Niagara Falls

Horseshoe (Canadian) Falls

The American Falls

It is the second largest with a height between 70 to 110 feet; its straight crest width is 830 feet.

Goat Island

The Goat Island is not just a piece of land between two falls, Frederick Olmsted a renowned botanist of 19th century has written that this island has the most original forests

he had ever seen in the continent during his thousand miles tour. This island got its name thus; once miller by name John Stedman kept a herd of goats on this island and it came to be known after the goats; it is said that all of those goats died in 1780 winter. Goats Island offer good view-point of the falls to the visitors like Terrapin Point, it is connected to mainland by bridges that can take pedestrians, car as well as one trackless train.

The American Fall

Those falls of the Niagara located in US are The American Fall and the Bridal-Weil Fall. The American Fall is the second in size as well as water discharge. It has a height of 70 feet and it is 106 feet in width. The Luna Island separates the American and Bride-Weil falls.

Luna Island is a small uninhabited island that stands between American and Bride-Weil falls. It is 130 feet wide between American and Bridal Weil falls and 360 feet long from upstream to the falls. Luna Island offers good view to both falls standing only few feet away, there is bridge enabling pedestrian crossing to the island.

Bridal Weil Fall

It is the smallest of the three falls located in the American side. The Bridal Weil fall has a crest of 56 feet and a height of 78 feet. The Luna Island separates it from the rest and the following locations are located nearby and associated with this fall.

TheCave of the Winds’ (it was originally a natural cave visited by tourists who could see the fall from behind; when the natural cave collapsed this new facility -of decks and walkways- were added that enables visitors to have closer view from the front of the fall. They can even experience the effects of tropical winds of up to 70 km speed simply standing on the decks!

After the fall the water flows directly in to the ‘Maid of Mist’ pool that is about 100 feet below. This pool got its name from the famous ferry service (at present it is used only for sight seeing) in the same name operated from this pool.

The Maid of Mist boat service started in 1846 and (which become without use as bridges were opened) later started as a recreational service). It starts from the calm waters of the Rainbow Bridge and visits all the water falls; its final point is the Horse Shoe fall at the Canadian side where the great fall makes all misty. These boats named as Maid of Mist No I, II, III and etc. This service is accessible from both US and Canadian sides.

Recreation, money and power

Niagara Falls Maid of the Mist leisure boat in front of the Falls

The Niagara Falls that discharges six million cubic liters of water every minute is the largest in the North American continent. The revenue generated from the millions of tourists who visit the spot runs in to billions but that is only one side of the story. Electricity produced from the fall is tremendous as about 90% of the water is diverted for this purpose. Most of the power requirement of Ontario City is met from Niagara’s ‘Sir Adam Beck hydro electric power station’ located at Canadian side.

US and Canada; what a team

It seems wonderfully different when these two nations cordially share the riches of Niagara, no jealousy, no blaming and no war, a phenomenon rarely heard of in other parts of the world. If Canada makes power from Niagara, US also do the same; they have the ‘Robert Moses Niagara Power Station, on their side. Both nations altogether generate 4.4 gig watts of power. Regulation of the flow of water is managed by The International Niagara Board of Control the (IJC).

Something for all!

Niagara Falls Horseshoe from a Fallsview hotel room

Niagara something for everybody to see and enjoy, it is an example for the American finesse in doing business rendering anything a visitor may ask for. For families there are special resorts, offering attractive rates, The Skylon Tower is one wonderful structure that offers sitting and watching the falls and surroundings while dining in a revolving hall at about 776 feet above the fall level! Lundy’s Lane, Victoria Center, Numerous Theme Parks, Fall Avenue, Clifton Hill, Butterfly Conservatory, I max movies and what not?

Valentines Day at Niagara

Niagara Falls frozen over in 1911Niagara Falls frozen over in 1911

Niagara locations have got an air of romance; the thundering waters, wind that Cave of the Wind’ and its high speed wind, ride in the ‘Maid of Mist’ some not so crowded locations all make it fit for a real honeymoon. During Valentine’s Day the whole area is swarmed by ‘love birds’ they have these locations something to celebrate! The company that named the ‘Viagra’ must have in their mind the romantic air of Niagara locations! After all the small difference between Viagra and Niagara is ignorable if both serve the same purpose! Invigorating the sagging soul and spirit!

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